Afraid that their homes will be vandalised if they evacuated, some Piparo residents have decided to stay put despite warnings that the rumbling volcano will soon erupt.
Even though barricades have been set up near the site, residents said people are continuing to go to the mouth of the volcano to perform poojas, prayers and to watch the bubbles of gas shoot up from the volcano’s fissures.
Boyo and Parbatie Suratt who live on the periphery of the volcano lounged unconcerned in hammocks under their home when Guardian Media visited on Wednesday.
Parbatie said during the last eruption in February 22, 1997, her three brothers were among the 14 families who lost their homes.
When they evacuated during the last eruption, Parbatie said thieves pilfered everything.
“This time we not moving. In these times where we going to find money to buy back everything? And we not going in any community centre. If we have to evacuate, we want a proper place to stay, “ she said.
Standing on the gallery of his home, Boyo said he could see the bubbles of greenish gas and mud being belched out from the bowels of the volcano.
“On Saturday I stand up and watch but since then it get a bit quiet. We can still hear the sounds like gunshots but since the rains came it get quiet. I don’t think it will erupt because that is God’s work there. If this is the way we have to go, nobody but God could stop that,” he said.
Next door, Aneal Harrilal said they too were unwilling to evacuate.
Harrilal said no proper arrangements were put in place.
“We are hearing that a meeting will be held to discuss evacuation but nobody has said anything and there is still many people coming to the volcano to see it. People are pushing down flags and poles and other items in the mouth of the volcano, “Harrilal added. He said cracks had developed in his front yard and the rumbling has continued unabated.
At the Solomon’s residence, the cracks at the back portion of their home had widened by more than a foot.
The entire back wall had splintered to the roof and the fence was lopsided.
A water line along the road became dislodged and a WASA crew was on-site to repair the leak.
Fidel Solomon said they managed to remove 90 per cent of their belongings and like their neighbours, they too were worried about thieves.
“This is a dangerous site yet people are still coming here to sightsee. They are bringing their children on top of the volcano, “ he said.
He said even though their home was a hazard they too had not fully evacuated.
“We packed up everything and if the time comes we will move, “ he said.
Another resident Shamshadeen Hosein slammed the government for not cordoning off the area and placing security personnel on site.
“What is the plan? Yes, we have been going on the site because we have to see what is going on, “ he added.
Senior geoscientist of Touchstone Exploration Xavier Moonan is expected to lead a Ministerial team to the site today. Moonan said they had no equipment to accurately assess when the volcano will blow but from recent drone surveys, it appears an eruption will occur very soon.
“We don’t have the type of scientific data that would be required because there has never been funding to support such research and equipment, “ Moonan said.
Last May, the geoscientist reported interesting changes on the surface and subsurface of the volcanic vents which erupted on February 22, 1997, displacing 31 families and killing livestock and birds.
During the eruption, thick warm liquid mud spewed up to 200ft in the air. The expanse of volcanic dirt-covered an area of 2.5 km.
Reporter: Radhica De Silva